Notes: Thanks to everyone who's read and left comments on my first SWAT Kats project in years. It was been an enjoyable experience already and I hope it continues. I noticed there were a few hiccups in the formatting in chapter one. I'll tried to fix what I could find. Hopefully it won't do that again.
Chapter Two: Imposter
It was getting late. The Litterbin show was almost over when Jake got a call on his cell. He assumed it to be Chance, but the call wasn't from his partner's number.
"Hi, Jake Clawson?" said an unfamiliar female voice.
"This is Tina at Megakat Memorial Hospital. I'm calling on behalf of Mr. Chance Furlong."
Jake sighed. "What did he do?"
"He didn't do anything Mr. Clawson. He was in a hotel room when a bomb went off."
"What?" Jake sat up straight, fumbling for the TV remote. He clicked it over to the news channel to see Ann Gora's face covering two bomb explosions that night at different hotels. "Is he alright?" He was already fumbling around the place, looking for the keys to the truck.
"He's in stable condition, but he-"
Jake cursed when he flipped over a couch cushion and dropped the phone. The call was disconnected, but he found his keys. He would get the rest of the information himself at the hospital. Dashing to the tow truck, he heard his forgotten cell phone ring again somewhere in all the random garbage in the living room. He made a sound of frustration and then just decided to leave it. He needed to get to the hospital now.
Jake turned on the truck's turbo speed until he hit the city streets, but even then it didn't seem like he could get there fast enough. By the time he made it to Megakat Memorial, all sorts of horrible ideas were haunting his mind.
Stable, she said. Stable was the word they used when a very wounded kat was currently not dying. All Jake could picture was Chance wrapped up in head to toe, red stains leaking through the gauze. Currently not dying, but who knew if that would change by the time he got there.
When he ran to the front counter, Jake was wide eyed and out of breath. The receptionist was only slightly surprised to see a kat so urgent. He probably wasn't the first desperate customer she encountered on a daily basis at her job.
"Chance... Furlong," Jake panted. "Where is he?"
The receptionist typed on her computer and then smiled at him. "Mr. Furlong is in room 306. You can take the elevator right there up to the third floor."
Jake was gone before she could even finish her sentence. He raced to the elevator and impatiently punched the button several times. When the doors didn't open fast enough he raced for the stairwell, taking the stairs two at a time to the third floor.
The door to room 306 happened to be open and he flung himself inside, preparing for the worst.
Within the room there was no battered, blood soaked body. Chance was sitting on an examination table, shirtless and pants dirty and damaged beyond repair. His back was toward the door. His obviously singed shoulder and back were being bandaged by a doctor. The older tom kat looked up at Jake's cry.
"You must be Mr. Clawson."
"Is he okay?" Jake blurted even though it was obvious Chance was.
"Aside from a few bruises and burns, he'll be alright," the doctor confirmed with a kind smile. "I don't know how he did it, but Mr. Furlong somehow had enough notice of the bomb to get himself and his companion into the bath tub before it went off. The tub protected them both from much of the explosion."
Chance still hadn't turned around. The doctor put a hand on the burly tom's shoulder and Chance finally looked up.
"Your friend is here," the doctor said into his face.
Chance finally looked toward the door and noticed Jake's state of distress.
"OH HEY BUDDY," he said in an unnaturally loud voice. "SORRY YOU HAD TO GET A HOSPITAL CALL LIKE THAT. I WOULD HAVE CALLED YOU MYSELF BUT I CAN'T HEAR A THING AFTER THAT EXPLOSION. THE DOC SAYS I'LL GET MY HEARING BACK IN A DAY OR TWO."
Jake winced at the volume.
"AM I TALKING TOO LOUD?"
Jake made a motion of lowering the volume.
It was still louder than normal, but Jake gave him the OK sign.
"I'll give you two some time to talk," the doctor said. "He can usually understand what you're saying if you look directly at him when you speak. There's also a pen and paper on the counter if you need it."
Jake thanked the doctor and then grabbed a chair to sit in front of his friend.
"That bomb detecting doodad you made really saved our tails, Jake," Chance told him.
"You know me, I do what I can. I'm just glad you still happened to have it with you, buddy."
Chance was already shaking his head at his partner. "I know the doctor thinks I can tell what you're saying, but I just kept nodding my head at him. I don't have a clue."
Jake took his turn to shake his head.
"Look, can you do me a favor Jake and go check on Tawny? We didn't realize how serious this was. Someone wants her dead big time and with my equipment malfunctioning right now-" He paused to jam a finger in his ear as if that would help his hearing to return, "I'm not the best bet for guard duty at the moment."
Jake gave him a thumbs up. "Roger that, I'll look after her. Good to see you're okay, buddy." He gave Chance a pat on the back, knowing full well his partner didn't get a word of that. Then waved him off before heading out the door.
Once in the hall, Jake allowed himself a deep breath. He didn't realize how much he had been trying to mentally prepare himself until the crisis was over. They had both talked about it now and again. The many near brushes with death kept it on their minds constantly. While Jake never would have guessed he would lose Chance over a hotel bomb with all the other craziness they had encountered over the years, the possibility one of them would go out on a mission and never come back was very real.
Jake's analytical mind had already been going over what it meant for the future of the Swat Kats if Chance was either killed or wounded so badly he could never fly again. It was terrifying to consider suiting up without him. There were no SWAT Kats with just one kat. Though they've never said it out loud, Jake knew that the second one of them was gone, the SWAT Kats would be no more.
Fortunately, that crisis would not happen tonight. Jake needed to focus on the task at hand.
Tawny's room was easy to find. It was located just down the hall and had an armed Enforcer stationed at the door. The mere presence of the guard made Jake wary. He was used to seeing enforcing officers with his mask on and never with his mask off. It made him feel almost naked to approach without his alter ego to protect him.
"Name?" the officer asked.
The officer checked his list of approved personnel to enter. "Oh, you're the other bodyguard. Hey your partner did a great job tonight. Ms. Furfax is lucky the guy's built like a brick wall. He took most of the damage. Do you know if he's ever thought about joining the Enforces?"
Jake fought the urge to roll his eyes at the second time he was asked that evening. "I'll be sure to bring it up to him." He nodded and stepped through the doorway.
The first thing Jake noticed was that the curtain had been pulled around the bed for privacy. The second thing he noticed was Commander Feral's stentorian voice coming from behind it.
"Kidnapped and nearly killed all in the same night, Ms. Furfax," Feral lectured. "I highly suggest you reconsider Enforcer escorts. Those two idiots you hired clearly had no idea what they were doing. There's a reason they don't work on the force any more."
"One of those idiots saved my life tonight, Commander," came the prim reply. "I would be dead if Chance hadn't been there."
"Very lucky," Commander Feral agreed. "But luck was all it was. The only other witness in this trial was killed tonight and you were very close to joining him. Bombay has a price on your head, Ms. Furfax and they are pulling out all the stops to make sure you don't survive until trial. If you don't listen to reason you're going to get yourself killed and possibly your two bodyguards as well."
There was silence for a while.
"I'll take it under consideration, Commander," Tawny said softly.
"In the meantime, I am putting an armed escort at your hospital room until you are discharged. At the very least, Furlong is not qualified to work until his hearing returns."
"Yes Commander, that's fine. Thank you for coming to see me."
Feral's voice grew a bit softer. "We need you alive. I don't want to let this scum get away with what he's done any more than you do."
There was no answer from behind the curtain, but the commander emerged from behind it. Jake immediately wanted to disappear in the tall kat's wake. Why was it that all it took was leaving his mask at home to be uncomfortable in Feral's presence? The commander, for his part, merely gave Jake a dark parting glance before parading out of the room.
In the silence that was left, Jake moved up to the curtain, clearing his throat so the kat behind it would know he was there.
"Um, hi. It's me, Jake."
"Mr. Clawson," Tawny's voice lightened. "You can come over."
Jake gingerly moved around the curtain. Tawny was sitting in the bed, a blanket across her lap. She was still wearing her dirty pajamas from the explosion. Her t-shirt held a small smudge of blood, Chance's. By all appearances the ginger she kat didn't have a mark on her, save for the nice black eye that was starting to develop on the left side of her face.
"Chance sent me in to stay with you. Nice shiner."
Tawny gave a soft, embarrassed sound as she lightly touched her bruised flesh. "Thanks. Your friend gave this to me when he shoved me into the bathtub."
"My friend?" Jake responded playfully. "You knew him longer than me."
Tawny chuckled quietly as her gaze drifted off, reliving those few terrifying moments all over again. She didn't even know they were in danger, but somehow Chance knew. She remembered him grabbing her and slamming her into the bathroom. She was shoved into the tub, banging her face on the side, his weight on top of her, smothering her. He was so heavy. Then there was a deafening noise. The whole world was shaking and falling around them, but Tawny was safe between the porcelain and Chance's strong body. He had saved her life, risking his own, even though he was no longer on her payroll.
"Anything I can get for you? Food? Clean clothes maybe?" Jake asked.
Tawny waved him off. "I just want to sleep tonight. Mayven's bringing me clothes in the morning."
Jake sat himself in a chair facing the bed, leaning forward on his elbows. "Look, I'm sorry for everything that's happened tonight. Chance is, too. We screwed up. We thought we could handle anything that came our way and we were unprepared. I completely understand if you're through with us."
"To be honest, I'm still trying to figure out where to go from here." She gave a rueful smile and then tiredly rubbed her face. "This is all my fault Chance got hurt. I usually check the room. I always search it for bombs, bugs, anything. But tonight was just so crazy, I didn't even think."
Jake watched her in concern. "Just how long have you had to live like this?"
Tawny dropped her paws and leaned back against the pillow, looking fatigued. "Too long," she whispered. "I get so tired of this. Of being afraid for my life. Never getting any sleep. Always wondering what might be out there waiting for me in the darkness."
It was the first time Jake really felt he understood where this she kat was coming from, what sort of life she had been living. This really wasn't the monsters and mutants he was used to fighting. In a way, it was worse. Instead of blatant attacks, it was something relentless and deadly that constantly plotted for this poor kat's death. If Jake and Chance were to continue to protect her, they would need to step up their game.
Without really thinking, Jake reached out to touch the she kat, his hand swallowing her delicate wrist. "You can sleep tonight," he said seriously. "I will watch out for you."
She stared at him, looking into his dark eyes, knowing he meant it. For the first time in a long time she dared herself to feel safe.
Tawny didn't want to sleep. She was used to only napping lightly to keep an eye out for trouble. But tonight she could not keep herself out of the heavy blanket of deep slumber. Her mind and body were done after all that had happened that night. They needed rest. She needed to gain her strength back so she could continue to fight.
It was well passed dawn when Tawny opened her eyes. Her lids were heavy, begging to sleep in further, but she couldn't afford to not be aware of her surroundings any more. Any second she was not alert made her unable to defend herself should someone come for her. A quick glance around the hospital room showed everything was the way she left it, no obvious danger in sight.
Chance had come in sometime during the night and flopped into a chair. Tawny had been too deep in sleep to hear him. The yellow tom was snoozing silently, dead to the world. It was good to see he was okay enough to sleep at such an awkward angle.
A brown furred form caught Tawny's attention out of the corner of her eye. Jake was still sitting in the same chair he had been the night before. Only now, it was turned to face the doorway. The curtain had been drawn back so not to obscure the entrance to the room. Jake did not move a muscle, but he wasn't asleep. His eyes were wide awake and he was staring intently at the closed door as if daring someone to come through it to try to harm the kats under his care.
Tawny's mouth ticked up slightly. She was tempted to ask him if he had been like that all night, but she already knew the answer. Seeing this helped to sway her indecision. Tawny knew she could trust these kats with her life.
Commander Feral had been right about Chance's hearing. Until it returned, he wasn't fit to guard anyone. Jake could have gone back on duty, but he wasn't sure how smart it would be to leave an antsy Chance alone in the garage. His hearing was already coming back after having a good night's sleep, but he needed at least twenty-four hours until it would be good enough for him to hear and understand a voice over the radio as per requirement.
Until then, Tawny was placed under Enforcer protection. After she was discharged from the hospital she would have a uniformed escort when she went to meet with her lawyer to prepare for the trial. It was only a day away and they needed to be prepared. After the meeting she was going to be escorted to an undisclosed location, guarded under lock and key for the night.
Despite having the day off of bodyguard duty, Jake and Chance kept the garage closed. They had their minds on other things. Chance especially was itching to get out and do something. So the two pilots suited up and put on their masks. They took the Turbokat out to the desert area several miles outside of Megakat City's limits.
There was an obstacle course the two pilots had built themselves. It had taken so long to put together, the SWAT Kats just decided to leave it there for convenience sake, wondering if any local authorities would tear it down. They never did. In fact, Enforcer pilots often played around the obstacle course themselves. The SWAT Kats never knew if those pilots had Feral's permission to do that or not.
That afternoon they had the course to themselves. There wasn't much talking as the team went through their usual exercises. Chance was able to hear Jake when they were in a quiet room and he was speaking loudly. But trying to speak to T-bone while in the Turbokat's noisy cockpit was a bit more difficult. T-bone couldn't understand him at all on the radio. When Razor tried to talk to him over his shoulder, he had to yell it a few times before T-bone caught what he was saying.
So the two settled into companionable silence. T-Bone spoke the most when necessary, knowing Razor could at least hear him. The two were so used to working together, they didn't need to communicate much to know what the other was doing. Before they knew it, it was starting to get dark and they were running low on missiles. It was time to head home.
"I'm going to do a run over the city before we call it a night," T-Bone announced.
Razor wasn't surprised. The explosion in the hotel had really rattled his partner. It had shaken both of them. It had been so long since they had been in danger without the masks on. The other witness to the trial had been killed last night. The kat they were supposed to protect could have also died. Chance could have died- not T-Bone.
And now the Enforcers were doing their job of keeping Tawny safe while someone was out there plotting their next attack. T-Bone hated letting others do his job, he always did. He was a hands on kind of kat. Doing a sweep of the city was all he was able to do that night. Hopefully it would be enough to settle his nerves and get him a good night's sleep. Then tomorrow, he would be ready to work.
The city looked normal in the fading light of dusk. No explosions or fires of any kind. Only one set of police lights were noticed on their sweep: an officer pulling over a speeder. Maybe this time the skulking evil in the city would keep to itself and everyone would stay safe for one night.
Razor's head swung to the side as he noticed movement on a rooftop.
"Huh? What's that?" he wondered to himself.
He reached to tap his partner on the shoulder. T-Bone turned and Razor pointed to the roof tops.
"What's that buddy, you see something?"
"I think I saw somebody down there. Can you turn around and get closer?"
"Say that one more time?"
Razor grabbed his shoulders to pull him back and speak loudly in his ear. "GET. CLOSER."
"Roger that. Circling around."
The Turbokat banked to fly by the same neighborhood again.
"There," Razor said. He reached forward and tapped on the glass so T-Bone could see what he was looking at. There was a form racing on foot over the rooftops, legs long and lean. Long blonde hair trailing behind her. "I think that's the vigilante she kat that's supposed to be in town."
"Razor, look! I think it's that vigilante that came to Megakat City."
"That's what I just said," Razor grumbled, knowing full well T-Bone wouldn't be able to hear him.
The form on the rooftops had stopped, noticing the jet. She watched the sleek black machine hover in the sky for a moment.
"What do you think she's up to Razor? Think she's got a lead on anything?"
Razor opened his mouth to respond, then closed it again when he remembered T-Bone wouldn't hear a word of it.
The she kat below took one last look at the jet and jumped off the top of the building. She disappeared in the shadows of the alley and away from the pilot's sight.
"I guess we lost her," T-Bone said. He let the jet hover for a few more moments just to see what would happen.
There was a flicker of light as a motorcycle jetted out of the alley and down the road.
"Woah, there she goes."
Razor tapped T-Bone on the shoulder, pointing in his vision. "Follow her."
The Turbokat easily caught up with the ground vehicle below. T-Bone tried to use the fading light to their advantage, trying to keep the black, silent jet of of sight from the motorcyclist. He felt the familiar jerk at his feet as Razor moved his seat back to access the hatch below. T-Bone knew exactly what he was up to.
"Razor, if you go out in the Cyclotron, it's possible I won't be able to pick you up. If I lose visual I might not be able to hear you on the radio."
"So I'll drive back to the hanger, don't worry about it."
T-Bone smirked at him. "Sending the lady a personal welcome to Megakat City? Gives a new meaning to the term speed dating."
"Shut up," Razor said loud enough that he hoped his partner heard him. "My throat's getting tired from yelling at you anyway." He was getting to the point where he would have given his left whiskers just to speak to someone who could hear him properly.
A few moments, the red bullet-shaped form of the Cyclotron emerged from the belly of the jet and wheels squealed as they hit the blacktop. Razor raced in the direction the other motorcycle had gone, enjoying the wind in his fur. He found his target not too far ahead, waiting at a red traffic light. Razor pulled up in the lane next to her, immediately getting the she kat's attention. Her bike was obviously a custom job. The design was light and streamlined, obviously built for speed. Unlike the Cycotron which was built with heavy armor and full of unpleasant goodies for bad guys.
The masked female flipped up the visor of her helmet when she noticed Razor and watched him suspiciously. Maybe she thought he was going to give her an unpleasant reception for being in his city. But all Razor did was rev his engine in the universal signal at he was game to race if she was. Though he was doubtful as to how well she would do against him on that teeny little bike.
A smile tugged at the side of the she kat's mouth and she flicked her visor back down, revving her own engine as well. The light flicked green and the she kat was suddenly gone. Razor was left staring at her skid marks before he took off after her. Of course a bike that light would get a starting advantage. The heavy Cyclotron was slow to start in the first few seconds, but it had the raw power to catch up quickly and he was soon right back on Black Kat's tail again.
Razor was confident he had the power to pass her up, but he didn't try. He was more interested in the chase. The kat in front of him glanced behind her. She seemed to get the idea and turned on the speed.
They were in a lower traffic area of the city. Only a few startled motorists got in their way as the chase was on. The she kat's bike was so small she could navigate in between the cars. A dangerous move, but she seemed determined to show off. Razor decided he would show her some fancy moves of his own as he deftly swerved through the traffic, not letting her out of his sights.
She gave a sharp, sudden turn down a small alley. Razor almost missed it. He just barely managed to get the long Cyclotron through the turn without scraping the side. Maybe he should consider building a smaller version for chases like this. Heavy armor and power were always good against monsters and robots, but he had really sacrificed maneuverability in this model.
The she kat had picked a poor direction. Up ahead was a large produce delivery truck, blocking the whole alley, but she didn't slow down. With the squealing and sparks of metal against concrete, she fearlessly slid herself beneath the truck, coming back up easily on the other side.
"Crud," Razor murmured. His bike wasn't going to fit under there. Had he lost the race? Maybe not. There was a pile of shipping pallets against the wall. One was propped up on its side like a ramp. If he hit that going fast enough, the tower should be able to hold him. He ramped up the speed and roared into the air. The tires momentarily skidded on top of the truck before landing on the other side.
The she kat was a few paces away, having stopped to see if he would make it across. At the first sign of his success she took off again, this time into the rail yard district and over several lines of train tracks. Razor was happy to follow. They were moving out into the dirt covered back roads outside the city. Once out there, he could really show off the power of his beloved bike. He would smoke this she kat and her tiny little crotch rocket.
The bike ahead of him cut off the dirt road and into the brush. Razor was right on her tail. The Cyclotron's wheels were made for all terrains. He noticed with pride that he was gaining on her, the brush was slowing her down. It must have been a rough ride on that dinky little thing.
She moved up parallel to the tracks, catching up to the slow, multi-car train that was plugging along ahead. Razor was practically on her back tire as they passed several different box cars. Several were completely empty, doors left open to allow one to see right through to the other side of the tracks.
Black Kat suddenly swerved out, arching wide from the train and picking up speed. Razor stayed right behind her as she pulled out wide and then suddenly bolted with a burst of speed back toward the train. As she aimed for an empty car, Razor understood what she was up to.
"That old stunt, huh?" he said to himself as she jumped cleanly through the open door car.
Razor gunned his engine to do the same. Piece of cake. In no time he had chosen his own car to jump through and landed flawlessly on the other side. The opposite side of the train was darker. No lights at his back and the train cars blocking the glimmer of the city. Razor squinted in the darkness. He didn't see the other kat anywhere. Did she take off again already? Which direction did she go? Razor couldn't see any dust trails or lights anywhere.
The last of the train rumbled past him and Razor still wasn't sure what happened. The Turbokat wasn't anywhere in the sky either. T-Bone probably went to finish his sweep of the city. Razor decided he should probably head back to town as well.
Right then, he noticed a light in the distance. The other motorcycle. It was jumping off the train! The she kat had landed in the car instead of going right through it as Razor first assumed. It was then the SWAT Kat had an epiphany. This masked she kat hadn't been leading him around on a merry contest of skill, she had been trying to ditch him.
Now more determined than ever, Razor made the bike's engine roar and used full power to get back to Megakat City. This time, he turned off all his lights and switched to night vision on his helmet. He wanted to see what this she kat was up to and why she didn't want him around.
By the time they reached the city limits, Razor had caught up to the other bike. Held back in hopes she would lead him right to whatever it was she was doing in his city. He was only slightly surprised when she drove back to the same neighborhood where she had first been spotted.
Black Kat suddenly swerved down a side alley and Razor knew he had finally been discovered. But he wasn't about to give up his prey. The she kat led him on a chase of tight twists and turns, trying to use her smaller bike to her advantage. Razor refused to let up, despite the new scratches and dings the Cyclotron was earning for his trouble.
Finally, the she kat drove into the dead end. Razor pulled up into the darkness. No light to illuminate the three walls, he didn't see any sign of the rider or the bike. For a moment his heart raced. Did they just disappear?
A mechanical whirring sound reached his ears and he looked up. Just a split second of an arm and the tip of a blonde pony tail disappeared over the roof of the building. Razor narrowed his eyes. So that's how she wanted to play it.
Black Kat raced over the rooftops, her dark colors disappearing and reappearing in the thick shadows of night. She leapt from building to building effortlessly as if she did it every night. It was faster to go by rooftop. No obstacles in the way. And she loved moving under her own power, flying through the air with nothing but her and the breeze in her fur.
Something crawled over the edge of the building ahead of her and she skidded to a stop, eyes wide. Razor hopped onto the same roof, panting heavily. He fought to get his breathing under control so it didn't look like he had worked his tail off to try head her off.
"So what- what's the deal?" he panted, fighting to slow his racing heart. "Ditching me on purpose? That's not very nice."
The she kat's surprise melted and she gave him another sideways smirk. "I'm sorry. Normally I'd be up for a nice long game of cat and mouse. But I don't have time to play tonight, I'm working."
"Working on what?" Razor demanded, claw hooked into his belt authoritatively.
Black Kat raised her paws in surrender. "I'm not trying to take over anyone's turf, if that's what you're worried about. I'm here strictly for the Bombay case. I'm just trying to look out for the last living witness. When the trial's over, I'm gone."
Razor softened his tone. "Hey, I'm not trying to make it a competition over saving lives. But I heard the witness was taken into protective custody. No one is supposed to no where she is. If you're trying to search the city for-"
"She's in that building." Black Kat nodded to the business across the street. It looked more rural than industrial. "It claims it's a bed and breakfast, but it's really an Enforcer safe house."
Razor noticed the no vacancy sign in red neon. "And what were you planning on doing?"
The she kat stared hard at the building. "If I can find it, that means others might be able to find it, too. If anyone shows up, I want to make doubly sure we nab their tails. If I can catch any of Bombay's goons in the act, that will put significant weight on the prosecutor's side."
"Is he really going to be that hard to convict? With all he's done, isn't there enough evidence now?"
Black Kat sighed. "You would think. But Vincent Bombay is old and crafty. He's had many years to do a lot of bad stuff to a lot of kats. He's had the time to dig is claws into kats with authority. Kats who owe him favors or aren't above taking bribes. Purrson Heights doesn't look it, but there's a lot of corruption beneath that shiny surface. That's why Bombay was transferred to Megakat City. There was hope his reach didn't go quite so deep in this town and that those in power wouldn't be bought off so easily."
"Well I can't speak for everybody, but it's been my opinion Megakat City is pretty difficult to buy off. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor are as tough on criminals as they can be. Not that this city can really afford to be lax in that department."
"And your Commander? He's a bit intimidating, isn't he?"
"Oh Commander Feral hates kats like us, to be sure. But he's also straight as an arrow. I'll eat my tail if he's ever found taking a bribe from a criminal."
I can't believe I just defended Feral, Razor thought to himself. It's a good thing he wasn't around to hear it.
The she kat gave him a small smile, looking grateful for the reassurance.
"I'm Razor by the way."
The SWAT Kat took a moment to look her over. She was tall and lean, a few inches taller than he. Though, he convinced himself, her boots helped with the height. Her fur was gray with a black mask over her features. The thick blonde hair pulled up in a pony tail would have rivaled Callie's in thickness, but was a paler yellow. The belt around her waist looked like it was carrying an array of different objects. Razor wondered if she wouldn't mind comparing gadgets.
It was kind of fun to speak to another who wore the mask. Razor found himself wondering what her missions were like. What sort of life threatening situations had she gotten into over her career and how had she gotten out of them? What happened to her that made her put on the mask?
"You're staring," Black Kat reminded and Razor instantly balked.
"Uh, sorry. Just thinking."
"Well you're welcome to think elsewhere if you want. I'm afraid it's just going to be a long, boring night while I keep an eye on this place."
Razor opened his mouth to speak when the distant sound of squealing tires reached his sensitive ears. Both masked kats turned toward the direction of the sound. It came from somewhere at their backs. A few blocks over in a higher traffic area, but still not quite as bright as the glaring lights of downtown. It was followed by several angry blasts of a car horn. Then a crashing sound.
Both kats were trying to make sense of it when a barrage of gunfire tore through the air. The two looked at each other with wide eyes and took off running simultaneously.
Razor took off one way, jumping off the building to get to his bike. It would get him to the scene faster.
Black Kat continued over the rooftops, stopping back above the dead end alley. She paused to look down in the darkness to some rubbish that just looked like two tires sitting on a pile of junk. She pressed a button on the control device at her wrist and what used to be a disguised motorcycle fell apart. From the opposite wrist she fired a fine wire attached to a claw. It grabbed the bulk of what was left of the vehicle and pulled it back up to the rooftop.
With her bundle of technology now strapped to her back, Black Kat took off on foot toward the sounds of the growing chaos.
Razor immediately tried to hail his partner as he raced toward the scene. "T-Bone, you copy? Still in the sky buddy?"
"T-Bone here. I didn't catch most of that, but my scanner says I'm not too far from your location. Do you need anything? Say it loud and slow."
"MIGHT BE TROUBLE," Razor said loud and simple. "FLY OVER."
"Roger that. I'll be in the area in a minute."
With his partner on the way, Razor rode toward the sounds of the disturbance. A few blocks over he turned the corner and slammed on the brakes, eyes wide at what he found.
It was like the scene from one of those epic catastrophic movies. Katizens were running from their abandoned cars, the sound of gunshots above panicked cries. One of the vehicles had flipped over on its side amidst a nest of skid marks. It was on fire. In the epicenter of it all were two Enforcer officers. They had opened fire on the panicked kats.
A she kat was already wounded. A tom was helping her limp into an alley for safety, clutching her bleeding arm. A teenager was already on his cell phone. Hopefully calling the Enforcers. His friend was holding a skateboard in one paw and taping the whole thing with his phone in another.
"Get out of here!" Razor yelled at them. "Get to safety!"
The teenager recording blatantly filmed Razor while the friend with more sense started to drag him off while he spoke with the emergency operator.
Razor activated the shield on his Glovatrix, hoping it would be enough to protect him from the gunfire. He raced toward the two officers, instantly catching their attention and drawing all their fire. Razor didn't get as close as he would have liked before he was peppered heavily with bullets and forced to hide behind an SUV. The officers were still several yards away and the SWAT Kat was outnumbered until his partner got there.
The gunfire paused for a moment and Razor dared to peek out from behind the car.
"Wait! What are you doing?" he called to the Enforcers. "Aren't you supposed to protect and serve?"
"Help me!" came the frantic voice in response. "I can't control it! I can't- get it off me!"
Razor peered at the officer that called to him. The Enforcer had tear tracks in his fur and a horrified look on his face. Obviously not a kat willfully intending to do harm. Something was wrong here. What did he mean? Get what off him? What was he talking about? Razor slid down the vizor on his helmet, activating the heat vision. From there he could see the kat's form but there was something winding around the body, under the Enforcer uniform. It radiated a slightly lower heat, wrapped like a snake around the kat's torso and the arm he was using to fire.
Beginning to get an idea of what was going on, Razor fired a net from his Glovatrix. It covered the kat, tripping him to the ground, arms bound at his side. The other uniformed officer fired at the SWAT Kat and Razor was forced to duck back down again. He didn't even see the next attack until something hard collided with the side of his head and he was sent sprawling into the street.
The helmet protected him from the brunt of the hit, but Razor was still seeing stars for a moment before he saw another kat standing over him. The teenager with the skateboard. This time, Razor clearly saw the thing wrapped around the young kat's body over his clothes. It was a rancid greenish brown worm with warted skin and wicked thorns that dug into the kid's flesh. The head of the creature seemed to be attached to the kat at the back of his neck. His eyes had rolled back into his head so much the iris had appeared to go white.
The teen foamed at the mouth and raised his board to strike again. Razor was still trying to make sense of it all, raising his glove to protect himself. At the side of his vision he noticed the other Enforcer aiming for him.
Suddenly, the teen was whisked away, dropping his board in the process. Razor was free to put his full attention on the gun pointed at him. He fired with his Glovatrix, a bullet of wet cement. His aim had been a little off in his haste. Instead of gluing the gun harmlessly to the kat's hand, it instead knocked the weapon clean away. At least the cement would render the gun useless and buy him some time.
Razor glanced back over to the teen who was now snugly tied and hoisted a few feet above the ground by a lamp post. Black Kat was standing next to her catch, eying the struggling cat. More specifically the undulating worm thing wrapped him.
"Gross. These things common in your town?" she asked. The sounds of Enforcer sirens echoed in the distance, getting closer.
Before Razor could answer, a very unkat-like scream ripped the night. The Enforcer that was still uncaptured was now doubled over, clutching himself. He groaned and panted. Even in the dim light, the two masked vigilante's could see the kat's fur had changed to a thick, swampy green. The eyes were yellow and without pupils, seeming to glow with their own light. Wicked teeth grew out from a deformed jaw and the kat screamed again as leathery wings surged out of his back, ripping through the uniform.
"Wow, poor guy," Black Kat said. "You don't see that everyday."
"Stick around long enough and you just might," Razor quipped.
The she kat grinned flirtatiously at him. "Is that an invitation, cutie?"
"Uhh..." Razor was instantly embarrassed, unused to such a response.
The mutated kat shrieked again and ripped off the last shreds of its uniform. The parasitic thing now wrapped around his body was clearly in view. It seemed to have merged with the kat now, digging deep into the skin and becoming one with the host. A great, reptilian eye grew from the worm, blinking right in the middle of the host's chest.
Razor got on his radio again. "T-Bone, we've got a situation. Where are you?"
"I'm here buddy, nearly right on top of you," came the response.
At the same time, the mutated kat decided he had done enough damage in this neighborhood and flapped his massive wings.
"This city sure knows how to show a girl a good time," Black Kat grinned. She was twirling a bola in her paw.
The mutation leapt into the air, wings spread, and Black Kat threw her line. The bola wrapped around his leg and the she kat held on gleefully to the line.
"Wait!" Razor called when he realized what she was doing.
But the she kat was already whisked into the air with a triumphant "Woo hoo!"
The Turbokat was now hovering right above the scene and T-Bone let out a startled "What the?!" as the winged creature flew right in front of the jet's nose. He watched in bafflement at the masked she kat trailing from his leg as they flew away. T-Bone found the presence of mind to lower the claw to retrieve Razor and the Cyclotron.
Meanwhile, Black Kat wasn't exactly enjoying the ride she had been hoping for. Those bat-like wings made for a jerky flight. It didn't help that the creature was not at all happy he had an extra passenger dangling from his foot. The mutated kat screamed and snarled at her, narrowly running her into several tall buildings. Black Kat gritted her teeth as she held on for her life. This would be a whole lot easier if she could just reach the control mechanism on her wrist. But she didn't dare remove one paw from the line.
The creature flew by an ornate office building with jutting rain gutters designed as gargoyles, grisly mouths open to pour out the runoff. Black Kat swung toward them. She looped the loose end of the line, catching the gargoyle around the neck. She crouched on the statue, pulling the line tight. The mutation squawked as it was tethered.
"Oh, Kitty-girl, you may have bitten off a little too much this time," she muttered to herself as she put all her strength into the rope, working quick to tie it into a knot.
The creature, unable to escape, turned around and landed heavily on the statue, claws digging into the stone. He screamed at the she kat, a pitch so high it hurt her ears. Black Kat backed up, pressed against the side of the building. They were several stories up and she had nowhere to run. The teeth of the monster had mutated further, jutting crookedly out of the mouth like the nightmarish sea creatures found at the very depths of the ocean.
The she kat stood ready for the worst as the monster snapped at her. It lunged, mouth open and snarling.
A brown furred foot came out of nowhere, nailing it right in the face, sending the monster over the side. Razor landed on the thin strip of concrete in its place.
"Sorry ugly, she's with me," he spat.
"Nice save," Black Kat grinned.
Razor didn't look to happy. "Do they put a little extra crazy in the tuna where you're from?" He was starting to feel like he didn't have time for this amateur vigilante who obviously didn't know what she was doing. No matter how hot she was. "What if that monster got you? What if you fell?"
Unaffected by the scolding, Black Kat sauntered up to him and practically purred in his ear. "I like the falling."
Despite himself, Razor felt a tingling from his ear down to the tips of his toes. His spine almost turned to jelly at her voice and his brain went blank for a few seconds.
The mutated kat screamed at them as it clawed its way back into the gargoyle statue. Both kats froze. There was the whooshing sounds of jet engines from above. Razor grabbed Black Kat by the waist in one arm, using his free paw to snatch the dangling safety line in the other. Hooking his foot into the stirrup, the two where whisked way before the monster could get its jaws on them.
The two were yanked into the air, reeled up into the belly of the jet.
"So this is the infamous Turbokat," Black Kat said, looking over the inside of the hull. "I was hoping I'd get to see her. She's beautiful."
"Did she say we're running out of jet fuel?" T-Bone said over the radio. "Tell her we still have a full tank."
"No, beautiful T-Bone. She said it was beautiful."
"Your partner have some hearing problems?" Black Kat wondered with a smile. She found the two kats quite comical.
"Not usually," Razor assured her. "But T-Bone had a little accident with an explosion."
The she kat's eyes went wide. "An explosion?"
"Jet engine," Razor struggled to recover. He couldn't say T-Bone was in the hotel bombing. That would for sure give his identity away. "The engine blew when we were fixing it. Kinda exploded. Right near his head. His hearing is still trying to recover."
Black Kat narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously as if suspecting the story of being a lie, but Razor only shrugged.
Below, the mutated kat found enough sense through the haze to rip the tether on his ankle. Now free, it took off into the sky again. The force from the heavy monster's take off loosened the head from the gargoyle and it plummeted to the street.
Commander Feral was racing around town with his lights and siren blaring. Frantically he was trying to figure out what had been going on in his city during the past twenty minutes. Felina was already at the original scene, having cordoned off the area. She reported two kats already incapacitated and suffering from some sort of parasitic host. That wasn't a good sign.
The rest of the commander's thoughts were cut off as something large and heavy collided with the hood of his patrol car. The metal folded like paper and Commander Feral slammed on the brakes as he came face to face with a gruesome gargoyle head on the other side of his windshield. Stepping out of his now smoking car, Feral heard screams from overhead and saw a winged creature flapping high above the rooftops.
With a deep frown, Feral calmly reached into his cruiser and grabbed the radio. "Attention all Enforcers. A 116B has been spotted in downtown heading north. That is one-one-six-bravo. Send air support. And someone come pick me up!"
Feral moodily slammed down his radio. What sort of city had this turned into when they actually had an Enforcer code for airborne mutations?
High above the city, T-Bone had also spotted the flying creature as it got free.
"Razor, that thing's loose again. Get up here."
"You'll have to excuse me," Razor said to their extra passenger. "Duty calls ma'am."
She grinned. "Sounds like fun. How about we have a contest?"
Razor watched her blankly. "You against us?" He stared down at the open hanger. Nothing but a very large gap of air between them and the tops of the skyscrapers. "But how will you-"
The masked she kat was suddenly in his space. She kissed him. Not quite on the mouth, but on that sensitive little space between the mouth and the nose. Razor's whiskers twitched with a life of their own.
"I told you," she whispered to him, "I like the fall."
Razor noticed for the first time that her eyes were a brilliant sapphire blue. Then she let him go and fell backward out of the open hanger. Razor stared with wide eyes as she saluted and winked in mid air before the she kat's face was too small to see. Then her plummeting form sprouted black wings from the mechanical pack on her back and she zipped down under the haze floating around the city buildings and out of sight.
Razor gave a low whistle. "And Feral thinks we're show offs." But he was grinning as he climbed up into the cockpit.
"Well don't you look like you caught the canary," T-Bone accused when he saw his partner. "Where's your new girlfriend?"
"She left," Razor insisted, trying to force that stupid grin off his face. "And we've got more important things to worry about." He pointed to the flapping form of the mutation. "Like trying to get that officer captured without hurting him."
"Yeah, I'm sure his day has already been bad enough," T-Bone joked.
The jet raced after the creature.
Callie Briggs ran in place on the treadmill, feeling that good kind of burn in her calves. Nothing felt better after a day of wading through political garbage than a nice workout to help vent the day's frustrations. The gym was located at the top floor of her apartment building. One of the reasons she had decided to move there. Not only was the clientele limited and familiar, but it was nice to gaze at the city while she jogged. It gave her something to look at while she listened to music on her kPod.
The deputy mayor had allowed herself to zone out to the rhythm of her legs and the music. She didn't even notice there was anything wrong with her view until a great wingspan blocked out the the city lights. The face of a monster right out of someone's nightmare stared at her with glowing eyes as the creature clung to the side of the building.
Callie squeaked and stumbled off her treadmill, the apparatus still going steady. One of the ear buds was jerked out and she heard the other kat's cries of surprise and horror. Before she could even react, the beast turned, attempting to fly away, only to be shoved back into the building by an octopus missile to the head. The creature crashed through the window, the thruster of the missile still propelling it through the room and into several different exercise machines before the missile petered out.
The creature snarled and thrashed on the floor, trying to pry the missile from its face. Startled kats scattered, most smart enough to head for the stairs to get as far away from the danger as possible.
From above, the SWAT Kats had landed their jet on the roof. They swung in from grappling hooks through the broken windows, Glovatrix at the ready. The creature had its back to them, giving Razor an excellent view of the parasitic worm attached to the base of the neck. The smaller SWAT Kat reached out a gloved paw to grab it. A mere touch and the thing reared back, its mouth a full circle filled with needle like teeth. It left a circular ring of bleeding marks on the host's neck.
The worm hissed at Razor and spat several green blobs at him. He ducked most of them, one landing on his metal glove. Razor saw the blob was really a short, squat version of the worm and it was trying to bite through his Glovatrix. Razor quickly threw the nasty thing against the wall, killing it.
From behind him, Callie let out a horrified cry. She had been the only kat brave enough to get so close. Several of the disgusting slugs had landed on her exposed limbs. She shook her arm, trying to fling one off, but it held on with some sort of sticky fiber on its skin. She felt a thick, strong arm wrap around her collar bone and hold her still against a broad body. T-Bone far more calmly brushed the creatures off of her before they could sink their teeth in. The things crawled along the floor and the two SWAT Kats made quick work of them before they could find another host.
"Don't forget that one" Callie reminded, pointing at the winged mutation.
"That one's not so easy, Ms. Briggs," T-Bone said, frowning. "That used to be one of Megakat's finest."
"You mean it's a kat that's been mutated?"
"Yeah, one of the Enforcer officers," Razor put in. "We've been trying to capture him without-"
The mutated kat finally ripped off the octopus missile and flung it at the kats with a snarl. The three ducked and the mutation scrambled back toward the window.
"Razor, he's getting away!" T-Bone barked.
Both pilots attempted to fire grappling hooks to keep the monster in the building. They were a hair too late and the beast surged into the night sky. No sooner had it cleared the building, Black Kat shot out of the sky, tackling the monster from behind and they both plummeted. The creature howled in rage at his extra passenger, trying to recover from the hit. Black Kat wouldn't allow it. She grabbed his head and shoved some capsules in the mouth. Foam surged up and the beast passed out in mid air.
Black Kat removed the pack on her back and slapped it onto the creature It snapped in place and she pushed a button on the device. Two lines shot out on either side and dug into the sides of the buildings around them. They jerked to a stop, suspended in mid air by the lines, the monster still out cold.
The masked she kat breathed a sigh of relief and pressed another button on the pack. It slowly began lowering the two of them toward the street. As she balanced on top of the sleeping creature's back, she looked at the undulating worm still attached to the kat's neck. Like before, it disengaged to bare its teeth at her. Black Kat jerked back in surprise, reflexively grabbing the thing by its neck. She pulled a knife from her boot and sliced off the head. Green ichor sprayed her in the face before the rictus mouth fell from her paw to the street below. Once beheaded, the undulating creature wrapped around the body fell still and seemed to wither slightly. The massive eye on the chest closed for good.
Commander Feral was waiting below, permanent scowl on his face. Black Kat stumbled onto her feet, looking a bit dazed. Feral pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her.
"Thank you," she said as she wiped her face.
"Mind telling me what happened tonight?"
Black Kat shrugged. "I know he's one of yours." She nodded toward the sleeping form. "He has some sort of parasite wrapped around him that was causing him to mutate. I'm afraid that's all the information I have, Commander. He's just knocked cold, he shouldn't be hurt. There were two other kats that were also victims."
"They have been contained," Feral nodded. "Though neither had such radical effects from the parasites."
"I hope the mutation can be reversed. We worked hard to bring that guy in intact."
"We?" Feral asked.
She nodded to the rooftop where two flashlight beams were flickering. If it was possible, Commander Feral's frown etched itself even deeper.
"And was it you or the SWAT Kats that shattered those windows up there?"
The she kat's mouth fell open. "Uh... it wasn't me. That's all I can tell you."
"None one of you should have been around," Feral grouched. "This is the job of the Enforcers. We are well trained and perfectly capable of handling these sorts of things."
Black Kat returned the handkerchief and strolled back over to the mutated kat. "Your officers were on the scene and they did do their best." She pulled her pack off the sleeping mutate and clipped it to herself. "But sometimes even the Enforcers need a little help."
With a wink, Black Kat was back in the air, jetting off into the night.
Up above, Razor slapped his paw to his face. "Crap! We lost!"
T-Bone looked at him blankly. "Were we in a contest?" He grinned and added lowly. "Because I think we already won." He glanced meaningfully back at the deputy mayor who was only wearing a pink t-shirt and tiny black shorts.
Razor couldn't help but smirk a little. It was fun to see her wearing something else beside her business suit.
"Well, looks like there's nothing else to do from here," T-Bone announced in his official "just doing my duty ma'am" type voice. Then it dropped to a more playful tone. "And may I say, nice legs Ms. Briggs."
Callie blushed crimson under the tom's appreciative gaze. Then the SWAT Kats fired their grappling hooks out the window and were lifted up to the roof where the Turbokat waited.
Later that night, Black Kat looked up from her binoculars as she heard someone climb onto the roof with her. She spun around, a gun in her paw.
"Hey, it's just us," Razor said, arms raised harmlessly. "I thought you might come back here."
Black Kat shot a quick glance back to the Enforcer safe house across the street she had returned to guard. "While it was a fun distraction, I shouldn't have left my post." She nodded to the larger of the two.
"Since I met Razor, you must be T-Bone."
"Hey," he greeted, eying the she kat up and down. Too bad Razor saw her first, she's kinda hot.
"We thought we'd just check up on you," Razor continued. "Mutated monsters can be tricky. And contagious. Were you bitten or anything?"
"I got a lot of worm sludge on me." She frowned at the new stains in her suit. "But I feel fine."
"Well we thought we'd come keep an eye on you for a while just to make sure there were no adverse affects," T-Bone cut in smoothly.
The she kat grinned. "I was hoping you would."
She tossed him a paper bag with a greasy bottom. T-Bone inspected the contents to find burgers and fries.
"I'm always famished after a workout. Hope you like strawberry shakes."
T-Bone grinned. "I love strawberry."
The three kats settled themselves on the edge of the rooftop, legs dangling over the side and happily eating junk food. The she kat sat in between the two pilots as they all dug in.
"Handy little gadget you got there," Black Kat said as she nodded to the Glovatrix at Razor's belt. "How's it work? What kind of spring system do you have in there?"
"This?" Razor asked as he handed it to her for inspection. "Well it's- hey!"
The she kat was already taking the gadget apart, two fries hanging out the side of her mouth. "Relax, I'll put it back together. I'm just seeing how it works." She fiddled around with it for a bit, the poor glove's guts hanging out. "Oh, you've got some great stuff in here. You guys design this yourselves?"
"Razor's usually the brains behind the gadgets," T-Bone said before his partner ccould speak. "Designs them all. Guy's a genius."
Razor glared in embarrassment at his partner. T-Bone was surreptitiously giving him a thumbs up, figuring he was being a proper wing man.
"Very impressive," Black Kat nodded. "I might have to steal a few of your ideas now that I've seen them."
"What about you?" Razor asked. "What about that motorcycle that just disappears into thin air?"
Black Kat laughed. "It was still in the alley. It just collapses into what looks like a pile of junk. You probably looked right at it. And that pack I wear," she pointed out the device sitting in the corner, "it was also part of the motorcycle. I just take it off when I need it."
The kats spent several more minutes talking about technology and gadgets, each impressing the other over the things they had thought of. It was a while before Black Kat decided to change the subject to something more important.
"So what was up with all the craziness tonight anyway?" she asked as she sipped her shake. It was chocolate. "You guys have any idea where those things came from?"
"Oh yeah," Razor confirmed. "Those uglies had Dr. Viper written all over them."
"Except we didn't see a single scale of that snake tonight," T-Bone added. "He usually doesn't go too far so he can gloat about is work."
"Not to mention that neighborhood wasn't one of his usual targets," Razor added, trying to keep the she kat's attention on him. "He only seems to do two things: steal mutating chemicals and attack the city with the mutating chemicals he's stolen."
"If it was an attempt at a city wide take over, it was a pathetic one," T-Bone mused.
Black Kat sipped thoughtfully."Did you notice that of the three kats infected, each one reacted differently to those parasites?"
"Yeah," T-Bone rubbed his chin. "Why would Viper make them do that?"
"Maybe he didn't. Maybe he was testing them on live hosts to see what they would do."
"So he's trying to perfect his monster," Razor concluded. "The question is which reaction was the desired result? And what does he plan to use them for?"
A shrug from the other two kats.
"Guess we'll just have to wait and see," T-Bone said as he looked over to the Enforcer safe house. "The second he does show that pointy nose we'll jump in and kick is tail."
Chance groaned as the alarm blared in his ear. The morning seemed to come far too soon and he wasn't so glad to have his hearing return if it meant he woke up to that annoying sound. He slapped the offending appliance with more force than necessary and the clock fell off its perch. Grumbling, Chance lumbered blearily off to shower.
They had stayed up far later than they should have the night before. Black Kat wasn't going to leave her post of watching over the last living witness of the Bombay trial until dawn. The pilots had enjoyed her company. It was kind of fun to sit next to a fellow masked kat and talk shop while overtly avoiding all the big questions the rest of the public was dying to know. But in the end, the two pilots eventually had to go home and get at least a few hours sleep. They had another job to do in the morning.
Once out of the shower, Chance frowned at the monkey suit waiting for him to wear. He hated dressing fancy, but Tawny had insisted they wear black suits and look professional while on the job. She was also giving them another opportunity to prove they could do this. Chance wasn't about to screw this up again, no matter what he had to wear. After putting on the thin bullet vest, slacks and shirt, he wandered to the kitchen, unfinished tie dangling around his neck with jacket and holsters slung over his shoulder.
Jake was already up and fully dressed, pouring himself a mug of coffee. When he saw Chance emerge he poured a second for his partner. The two sat in silence as they sipped their caffeine, enjoying the silence of the early morning.
"So I have a thought," Jake spoke up.
Chance raised a brow in his direction. It was always interesting when Jake started a conversation with that statement. "About what?"
"About our masked she kat."
Chance couldn't help but grin. This was going to be good. "Yeah?"
"Ms. Furfax's assistant, Mayven."
"She's the same body type as Black Kat."
Chance was silent.
"They both arrived in the city around the same time. They both have gray fur and blue eyes."
Chance grinned broad. "You would notice her eye color. I saw how you looked at Mayven when she came in the other day. You thought she was cute."
"Yeah, well I..." Jake mumbled, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously. "I just thought it made sense. Mayven seemed to have had some bad history with this Bombay mobster as well. It was obvious she hated him. I could picture her putting on the mask to see justice was done and to make sure her employer stayed safe."
"And you and Black Kat seemed to get along quite well, too, I might add. Maybe it's meant to be," Chance teased.
"If they're even the same kat," Jake insisted. "It's just a theory. I guess we'll have to see if the two are even seen at the same time."
"How's this for a theory," Chance said, his voice getting that nonsensical tone. "What if Tawny and Mayven are the same kats while we're on this string of thought? We haven't seen both of them at the same time, either."
Jake frowned at his friend's stupid grin. "Now that's a little far fetched. They're about the same size, but a different wig can only cover so much. They have completely different fur color and different eyes. Not to mention their personalities are nothing alike. Can you imagine Ms. Furfax, the prim and professional CEO of Furfax Industries jumping over rooftops and pulling the type of stunts we saw last night?"
Chance shrugged and Razor's watch went off, signaling it was time to grab the car and be on the road.
Chance and Jake had been given an address to where they could pick up Tawny from Enforcer custody. It was not the same address as the safe house they had been guarding the night before. Of course the Enforcers wouldn't ask civilians to drive up to a secret location like that.
The job today was a simple one, all the two kats had to do was drive Ms. Furfax to the courthouse for trial, keep an eye on her through the day and then return her back to Enforcer custody at night. This would be their daily routine until the trial was over, however long that would be.
"This new day job is going to be one big snooze, especially after the fun we had last night," Chance sighed as they pulled up to the address of the hotel they had been given. He was not looking forward to the hours and hours to come sitting in a boring courtroom. Hopefully everyone would see what a scuzzball this Bombay character was right away and send him to the slammer on the first day.
"Let's just hope it is boring," Jake responded. "Remember, it's got the potential to become a bad situation real fast if we're not paying attention. And we can't screw this up again. Feral's probably going to be there, too. If we blow it in front of him again he just might kick us all the way out of Megakat City for good."
"Right," Chance sighed. "I'll bring my A game, I promise."
A uniformed Enforcer stepped out of the front door of the hotel followed by the drab form of Tawny Furfax. She had on a black pencil skirt, black shoes and a beige top. Her form was a bit hurried, but also hunched and drawn in. The Enforcer opened the door for her and she slid into the backseat like a dark cloud. She was wearing very large, dark sunglasses that seemed to swallow her face.
Jake reminded himself that the she kat would still be sporting an impressive black eye from Chance pushing her into the tub. It hadn't looked very good the night before. It must look awful today. It was probably embarrassing for her.
"Rough night?" Chance asked.
"A bit," came the scratchy response. She hardly sounded like herself. Maybe she was getting sick.
"What happened? The Enforcers not as hospitable as you had hoped?"
"Just drive, okay?" Tawny shot back in a grouchy tone.
Chance wisely held his tongue, noting to himself that anyone spending the night under Feral's watch would be in a bad mood so he couldn't blame her too much for the attitude. They drove in silence to the Megakat courthouse.
"Woah," Jake blurted as they neared the building.
"What the-" was Chance's retort.
It was a regular three ring circus outside the courthouse. All sorts of kats were congregated around, picketing and shouting. Some of the signs suggested that Purrson Heights keep their trash in their own city. Others called for Bombay to fry for his crimes. Paparazzi mobbed the car as it pulled up, cameras flashing through the tinted windows. Enforcers were everywhere, trying to keep things under control.
Chanced stared through the thin glass, the only thing separating him from the chaos. "Oh, this is going to be fun," he muttered darkly.
Carefully he opened the car door, though he was tempted to shove it open as hard as he could to get everyone out of the way. A young Enforcer immediately stepped into his space to take the keys, parking the car so the bodyguards could watch over their employer.
Jake circled the car, telling the media to stand back while Chance opened the door for Tawny. The flashing bulbs and demanding questions increased a hundred fold as she stepped out. She was probably really glad for those massive shades now.
Like a champ, Ms. Furfax paraded up the stairs of the courthouse, ignoring all questions and acting as if the media wasn't even there. Jake took point, moving kats aside to clear the way. Chance took the rear, eying the crowd for anything suspicious. It was so difficult to know what to look for. There were so many bodies everywhere. So many cameras blinding him.
They were almost to the doors when Chance spotted something that set off his internal alarms. A kat from the picketing crowd suddenly dropped his sign and rushed the mob of reporters. He was reaching for something shiny on his coat, eyes dead set on the ginger she kat.
"Gun!" Chance barked, reaching for his own.
Several Enforcers were already merging to the kat's position. The gun was out, but he didn't have any time to shoot before he was tackled to the ground by uniformed officers.
Despite the gunkat's capture, several shots echoed through the crowd. Jake whirled around, his keen ears telling him the source was from the opposite direction. He stepped in front of Tawny and felt the muted force of a bullet impact his sternum through his vest. His gun was out and despite the fact that several scurrying kats were in his way, he fired with perfect timing.
In the Enforcers, Jake and Chance had been trained to shoot to kill if the situation called for it. Jake's impeccable marksmanship could earn him a dead body any time he wanted. Even as bodyguards, the law was on their side for killing the gunkat if he so wished.
But as SWAT Kats, they knew the second they put on those masks, they no longer were part of the law. They were above the law. And the only way to make it right was to never kill a fellow kat. No matter how twisted or perverse the mind or body. It was the reason the SWAT Kats never carried a single regular gun in their impressive arsenal.
Jake still practiced with Enforcer issue weapons, but only on targets, never in the field. He let off two shots. One hit the second gunkat's paw, shattering the bones and causing the attacker to drop the gun. The second went into the thigh, hopefully doing some good damage to the femur and preventing any escape.
The second gunkat was down, yelping in pain. One Enforcer kicked the bloody gun away while others piled on top of him, cuffs ready.
Jake turned to check on the status of the she kat behind him. She was on the ground, curled up next to a cement pillar of the courthouse building. Her eyes were wide with fright, her chest gasping for air in a state of shock. One paw was clutching the bony part of her collar between the neck and shoulder. Blood flowed through her fingers.
The blood wasn't the only thing that had Jake stunned. The she kat's brown curly wig had fallen off in her scramble, revealing straight black hair beneath. The shades had been lost somewhere and there was no bruise on the face. Only brilliant blue eyes. The fur had been dusted with brown in the few spots fur was exposed. But underneath, Jake could see its original color was gray.
"Tawny!" he heard Chance's voice behind him.
The burly kat surged forward and froze in his steps when he saw what Jake saw.
"Where's Tawny?" he demanded of the wounded she kat. "Where is she?"